Perspectives on Transnational Apology and Reconciliation in Africa

  • Megan Reif
  • Abdelkader Abdelali
  • Ariel Stone
  • Adeniyi Famose
  • Jacqueline Akhurst
  • Helena Castanheira
  • Eduardo Correia
  • Mahlon Dalley
  • Natoschia Scruggs
  • William Tastle
Part of the Peace Psychology Book Series book series (PPBS, volume 7)


Apologies for violations of human rights and concrete mechanisms of justice and reconciliation after civil conflict have evolved, in large part as a result of the experiences of African countries, into an international “transitional justice” norm. As a means of reconciliation of interstate conflict, however, apology is a much rarer and more controversial phenomenon. While some research explores the views of ordinary Africans on internal transitional justice processes, little is known about their attitudes toward transnational apology. This chapter addresses African perspectives on the circumstances under which people accept apology as a means of reconciliation between states. Using grounded theory to identify themes in Africans’ qualitative responses to relevant open-ended questions on the Personal and Institutional Rights to Aggression and Peace Survey, we find that over half of the participants suggested that apology is successful only under certain conditions. Recognition of wrongdoing, remorse, concrete measures to repair the relationship, and material reparations were the most common prerequisites identified in the African sample. These conditions are similar to those identified in previous research exploring how ordinary people define the elements of effective apology. Coded and analyzed independently, the survey responses are remarkably consistent with the African experience of interstate apology discussed in the first part of this chapter. Although the method used and the nature of the sample do not permit conclusive inferences, it is notable that, like the survey responses, the public and official discourses surrounding bilateral and multilateral efforts by African countries to obtain redress for past wrongs have also emphasized material reparations. We conclude by discussing possible theoretical explanations for the patterns and the implications of the preliminary observations and for existing and future research.


Transitional Justice Qualitative Response Slave Trade Past Wrong Reparation Claim 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Megan Reif
    • 1
  • Abdelkader Abdelali
    • 2
  • Ariel Stone
    • 3
  • Adeniyi Famose
    • 4
  • Jacqueline Akhurst
    • 5
  • Helena Castanheira
    • 6
  • Eduardo Correia
    • 7
  • Mahlon Dalley
    • 8
  • Natoschia Scruggs
    • 9
  • William Tastle
    • 10
  1. 1.Political Science and International StudiesUniversity of Colorado DenverDenverUSA
  2. 2.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of Tahar MoulaySaidaAlgeria
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyBoston UniversityBostonUSA
  4. 4.Joavic’s FoundationAbujaNigeria
  5. 5.Department of PsychologyYork St John UniversityLondonEngland
  6. 6.Psychology DepartmentNew School for Social ResearchNew YorkUSA
  7. 7.ISCTE Business School in LisbonLisbonPortugal
  8. 8.Psychology DepartmentEastern Washington UniversityCheneyUSA
  9. 9.Asylum Division, U.S. Department of Homeland SecurityArlingtonUSA
  10. 10.Ithaca College of BusinessNew YorkUSA

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